CANARIE, a vital component of Canada’s digital infrastructure supporting research, education and innovation, today announced 20 successful recipients of its Research Software funding call, announced in late 2017. This funding will enable research teams in applied sciences and the humanities to adapt their existing research platforms for re-use by other research teams, including those working in different disciplines. As a result, new research teams from across Canada will be able to re-use previously funded and developed software to accelerate discovery.
What are Research Platforms?
Research platforms are complete software applications that support most of a research project’s workflow (i.e. data collection, processing, visualization, and storage). CANARIE’s experience in funding research software for the past decade highlighted the fact that the research workflow is similar across most projects and disciplines. As such, CANARIE has evolved its funding model to invest in software tools that are reusable across multiple research teams.
This funding is part of the Government of Canada’s $105 million investment supporting CANARIE’s activities during its 2015 – 2020 mandate.
“Today we are making it easier for researchers to share their data with each other, no matter where they live in Canada. Canada produces some of the world’s best science, and by equipping researchers with the software they need to make research more accessible, open and transparent, we are giving our researchers the best possible tools for future discoveries”, said the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport.
“Software re-use lets research grants be used for the research itself, rather than for duplicated efforts in software development, enhancement, and maintenance”, said Mark Wolff, Chief Technology Officer at CANARIE. “Efficient use of research funding helps to position Canada as a leader in science and innovation.”
- Budget 2018 committed to provide $572.5 million over five years, with $52 million ongoing to implement a Digital Research Infrastructure Strategy.
- CANARIE’s core purpose is the advancement of Canada’s knowledge and innovation infrastructure. This infrastructure is the digital foundation supporting Canadian leadership in the global knowledge-based economy.
Research Teams Awarded Funding
The following research projects have been funded to evolve their platforms’ capabilities to support new teams of researchers:
- 3D Slicer – Led by Dr. Gabor Fichtinger, Queen’s University
A feature-rich platform designed to support 3D image analysis and visualization, primarily in biomedicine.
Software Evolution: 3D Slicer will support research in image-guided radiation therapy (RT), used in over half of all cancer treatments.
- A Research Platform for User-Defined Oceanographic Data Products – Led by Dr. Maia Hoeberechts, Ocean Networks Canada (ONC)
A platform to allow researchers to access, share, test, and manipulate data from cabled ocean observatories, which deploy underwater sensors that continuously generate near real-time, high-resolution data from the marine environment.
Software Evolution: The platform will be enhanced to include user-defined “dashboards”, allowing researchers to customize webpages that visualize specific data streams. This functionality will support real-time monitoring of data, science-based decision-making, educational data use, public data displays, and allow manufacturers and engineers to more easily track equipment health and behaviour.
- Atlascine – Led by Dr. Sébastien Caquard, Concordia University
A platform that transforms stories (such as life stories of refugees) from text, audio, and video into innovative maps that illustrate the significant places expressed within them.
Software Evolution: Atlascine will enable the interaction between stories and their cartographic representations by developing a data input tool that synchronizes maps, video, text transcripts, and audio.
- Building and Energy Simulation, Optimization and Surrogate-Modelling Platform (BESOS) – Led by Dr. Ralph Evins, University of Victoria
A collection of modules for the simulation and optimization of buildings and urban energy systems, spanning electric micro-grids, district heat and renewable energy.
Software Evolution: To improve the usability of whole workflows by other research teams, the Holistic Urban Energy Simulation (HUES) platform will be transitioned to the BESOS platform, which will refine selected modules for increased interoperability and ease of integration.
- Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC) – Led by Dr. Susan Brown, University of Guelph
An online research environment that enables humanities researchers in literature and related cultural practices to develop, analyze, and publish both research outputs and sources.
Software Evolution: CWRC will be enhanced to improve timeline and geographic mapping components, implement credit visualization, and add support for born-digital publications.
- CBRAIN – Led by Dr. Alan Evans, McGill University
A web-based, collaborative neuroimaging research platform providing transparent access to computing and data resources available across Canada and around the world.
Software Evolution: Three new workflows will be integrated into the CBRAIN platform to support different types of electro/magneto-cephalographic (EEG/MEG) neurologic research.
- CloudUAV – Led by Dr. Greg McDermid, University of Calgary
A cloud-based Research Platform that streamlines Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV, also known as drones) workflows for use in research applications – from flight planning and data acquisition to post-processing, data delivery, and sharing.
Software Evolution: UAVs have research applications in many disciplines and industries. Under this project, CloudUAV will add support for applications that improve efficiencies in mining, logging, and construction industries.
- Genetics and Genomics Analysis Platform (GenAP) – Led by Dr. Pierre-Étienne Jacques, Université de Sherbrooke
A platform for life science researchers designed to simplify access to bioinformatics analyses, data processing and sharing.
Software Evolution: The GenAP portal will be enhanced to allow users to create and launch their own tools and analysis pipelines for data processing, sharing, and visualization.
- Geospatial Cyberinfrastructure for ENvironmental Sensing (GeoCENS) – Led by Dr. Steve Liang; SensorUp Inc.
An open and unified framework to interconnect Internet of Things (IoT) sensing devices, data and applications over the Web, supporting research in climate change, food security, ground-water, and ecology.
Software Evolution: GeoCENS will add support for urban monitoring research and will extend to collect and analyze local and real-time air quality data from across Canada.
- Helpful Open-Source Research Tool for N-fermion Systems (HORTON) – Led by Dr. Paul Ayers, McMaster University
A platform for testing new ideas in quantum chemistry research and nuclear physics.
Software Evolution: HORTON will be enhanced to include new quantum-mechanical models. New tools for interpreting the structure and reactivity of molecules will also be added.
- iEnvironment++ – Led by Dr. Don Cowan, University of Waterloo
A platform that supports environmental science and engineering research on surface water by providing researchers with the ability to access and share environmental data and presentation facilities easily, while also developing best practices through sharing, monitoring and modelling tools.
Software Evolution: iEnvironment++ will increase its established user base through the addition of new software components for data management, algorithm sharing, quality control, mapping, workflow management, and reproducibility services.
- Integrated Rapid Infectious Disease Analysis (IRIDA) – Led by Dr. William Hsiao, Simon Fraser University and BC Centres for Disease Control (BCCDC) Public Health Laboratory
A user-friendly, distributed, open source bioinformatics and analytical web platform, developed to support real-time infectious disease outbreak investigations using whole genome sequencing data.
Software Evolution: IRIDA’s setup and use by new teams will be simplified through cloud-based installation and “containerized” workflows. IRIDA’s evolution can be deployed in a cloud environment and will provide a workflow “plugin” system. This will allow custom workflows to be added and removed from it in a modular manner that will not modify the core platform.
- iReceptor – Led by Dr. Felix Breden, Simon Fraser University
A distributed data management system and research platform for mining sequence data from immune responses. The purpose of this system is to improve the design of vaccines, therapeutic antibodies, and cancer immunotherapies by creating an international data commons of antibody and T-cell receptor genes sequences.
Software Evolution: iReceptor will integrate two new, large-scale data repositories into its data commons.
- Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus) – Led by Dr. Denis Lepage, Bird Studies Canada
An international, collaborative research platform that uses automated radio telemetry arrays to track the local, regional, and continental movements of small animals. Birds, bats and insects are fitted with radio transmitters (tags) that broadcast unique signals several times each minute to automated receiving stations.
Software Evolution: In order to open up the capabilities of Motus to a larger group of researchers, this project will expand the types of tag and receiver stations to which the platform can interface.
- MSS-IMProv – Led by Dr. David Schriemer, University of Calgary
A platform to support the development of data processing applications for scientists in bioanalysis, particularly those scientists using mass spectrometry for the study of proteins, drugs, and metabolites. These activities support fundamental research into biology and disease mechanisms.
Software Evolution: MSS-IMProv will evolve to process files from all major mass spectrometry vendors, increasing the platform’s potential user base. New functionality to model protein complexes will also be developed.
- ObiBa – Led by Dr. Isabel Fortier, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center
A platform designed and developed to meet the data management and dissemination requirements of large observational cohort studies, which can recruit up to thousands of participants and collect large numbers data elements throughout participants’ lifetimes.
Software Evolution: OBiBa will be enhanced and extended to support the particular needs of clinical research infrastructures, which are different from cohort studies. These infrastructures often comprise a smaller number of participants with specific, unique challenges related to patients and their data.
- Power Analytics for Visualization of Climate Science (PAVICS) Project 1 – Led by Dr. Yacine Bouroubi; Université de Sherbrooke
A platform with a set of individual climate analysis processes that can be linked to form complex workflows.
Software Evolution: PAVICS Project 1 will evolve PAVICS to the GeoImageNet platform. GeoImageNet will include annotation tools for very high resolution satellite images, and deep learning support for object detection and land use/cover mapping.
- Power Analytics for Visualization of Climate Science (PAVICS) Project 2 – Led by Dr. Richard Arsenault, École de technologie supérieure
A platform for scientists from disciplines that increasingly require weather and climate data to conduct their research.
Software Evolution: PAVICS will be enhanced to support hydrological research through the addition of tools for watershed analysis and hydrological modelling and simulation.
- SeaTube/SeaScribe – Led by Dr. Ben Biffard, Ocean Networks Canada (ONC)
SeaTube is an application that allows users to browse and playback any file in ONC’s rich archive of underwater videos, with the ability to search the related metadata and annotations. SeaScribe allows experts to contribute annotations in real-time while the video is being recorded.
Software Evolution: To enable availability to any video-based expedition (land, air, or sea), the two applications will be merged and generalized and new features will be added, including reporting, display, event detection, crowd-sourcing, and others based on user feedback.
- VESTA integrated with ELAN – Led by Gilles Boulianne, Computer Research Institute of Montreal (CRIM)
An online, timeline-based collaborative platform for annotating audio and video content used in education.
Software Evolution: ELAN is a desktop application for creating complex annotations on video and audio in humanities and social sciences. This project integrates ELAN and VESTA so that users of both systems in a variety of disciplines can access data and annotations that have been stored locally by ELAN users, through the VESTA web interface.
In addition to funding the evolution of research platforms to serve more researchers, CANARIE’s Research Software Program adopts a highly efficient development model: new software draws from an existing toolkit of software, developed and contributed by other researchers. Funded participants add new software to the toolkit, resulting in significant process and cost efficiencies through a powerful cycle of software development and reuse. The full suite of research software is available at no cost to the global research community at science.canarie.ca.
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CANARIE strengthens Canadian leadership in science and technology by delivering digital infrastructure to support world-class research that directly benefits all Canadians.
CANARIE and its twelve provincial and territorial partners form Canada’s National Research and Education Network. This ultra-high-speed network connects Canada’s researchers, educators and innovators to each other and to global data, technology, and colleagues.
Beyond the network, CANARIE funds and promotes reusable research software tools and national research data management initiatives to accelerate discovery, provides identity management services to the academic community, and offers advanced networking and cloud resources to boost commercialization in Canada’s technology sector.
Established in 1993, CANARIE is a non-profit corporation, with the majority of its funding provided by the Government of Canada.